The King of Stepback Covers
Award-Winning Cover Artist
Victor Gadino is a wonderful artist in the romance novel industry who has created gorgeous covers for over thirty years.
Gadino is an award-winning fine and commercial artist. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the elite Pratt Institute. He has created artwork for the corporate, publishing, and entertainment fields.
Although Victor Gadino began his career as a cover illustrator in the 1970s, his big break in the industry came in the early 1980s. Gordon Merrick’s backlist of books was reissued in paperback format by Avon. Gadino illustrated all of Merrick’s covers.
In particular, he created the artwork for the seminal gay series about lovebirds Peter and Charlie, which concluded with a happy ending. The first of the trilogy was The Lord Won’t Mind.
At the time, these were controversial images, as mainstream publishers had never represented same-sex couples in such a highly eroticized and romantic fashion. Not since the days of salacious gay and lesbian pulps had such artwork graced the covers of fiction. And those books were gratuitous in nature, not genuine love stories.
Gadino’s knack for sensual paintings held a touch of whimsy. His art perfectly suited the books.
Beginning of a Romance Career
Gadino worked steadily through the 1980s for publishers such as Harlequin and Avon, illustrating romance covers.
He did not begin his career as a romance illustrator for Johanna Lindsey‘s Prisoner of My Desire. However, it was that book that catapulted his name into the industry.
Elaine Duillo was Lindsey’s regular illustrator at the time but was unavailable. Although this cover was a one-off occurrence, Gadino’s artwork was immediately appreciated by fans.
I love the little details added to his covers, such as the horse grazing in the background.
Gadino designed incredible-looking covers for authors such as Rosemary Rogers, Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham), Betina Krahn, and Sandra Hill. His works are defined by exquisite attention to detail, be it the hero’s muscled abs, the intricate lace of a beautiful gown, or the heroine’s flowing hair.
Many of his covers were stepbacks. Stepbacks usually have a “respectable”-looking front. When they’re opened, there’s a beautiful illustration to see inside. Gadino has painted many of these. Some–that is to say we–consider Gadino the unofficial “King of the Stepbacks.”
Where is Victor Gadino Now?
Victor Gadino lives in New York. He continues to design artwork for books, films, and advertisements.
Gadino is constantly creating new innovative work. He sells giclee reproductions of his art. One can view samples of his work and order them from his website.
If you’d like to read more about Victor Gadino, his life, and his artwork, you can access our Sweet Savage Flame page about him:
Are you a fan of Victor Gadino’s work? If so, what are your favorite covers or pieces of art painted by him?
Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.